The TOEFL score is valid in 7,500 institutions in 130 countries. What is the reason for such popularity?
It tests the proficiency of English language through speaking, reading writing and listening. This is exactly what a student does in the classrooms of the universities which accept the score. We did a study to take the feedback of professors and counsellors and four out of five said that they prefer TOEFL over any other test.
What are the areas in which Indian students should improve?
Indians normally are good at everything. The average score of Indian students is 22 (out of 30) in reading and 23 each in listening, speaking and writing.
This makes their total score as 90 (out of 120) while the global average is 79.
What is the fee for the test and how often does this take place?
It takes place more than 40 times a year and one can register anytime of the year. The current fee is $160.
TOEFL still has two formats - IBT (Internet-based test) and PBT (paper-based test). Why is it that in some places it is still taken in the pen and paper format?
We are gradually replacing the pen paper format test with the IBT but as we know all places in the world don’t have a steady Internet connectivity. So, we have made provisions for that as well. But soon, everywhere there would only be the IBT.
Do students with a significant mother tongue influence lose marks in the speaking section?
We accept the fact that English is spoken around the world in different ways. We don’t take into account the accent but the usage of words should be proper and one should be able to communicate properly and the grammar must be right. If the grammar is weak, then the student will lose marks.
In TOEFL, the assessment is done by human beings. Doesn’t this leave the scope of subjectivity?
We have a policy that all evaluators must have experience of teaching to students who have English as their second language. All of them are American nationals but most of them are immigrants with an experience of teaching outside the US. Let’s say there is some teacher who is living in America but has been to Poland to teach or to any other country (with a non-English speaking population).
All the evaluators must pass a calibration test every time they start evaluating. Such systems are put in place to ensure that evaluation is done accurately.
What plans do you have this time in India?
We are training the teachers who give coaching for the TOEFL here.
This gives a platform to the teachers to share each other’s ideas. For example, one teacher from Hyderabad at one such workshop gave an idea that students should read or listen to the cricket commentary. It not only helps build English vocabulary but it’s exciting for students at the same time.